VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A couple in Virginia Beach has been sentenced for selling counterfeit coupons that cost retailers and manufacturers more than $31 million in losses.
According to a release from the Department of Justice, 41-year-old Lori Ann Talens and her husband, 43-year-old Pacifico Talens, operated a scheme using social media sites such as Facebook and Telegram to find groups of coupon enthusiasts and sell them counterfeit coupons from approximately April 2017 through May 2020.
Talens ran the scheme from her Virginia Beach home and used a computer to design, create, and produce a wide variety of counterfeit coupons that were “virtually indistinguishable” from authentic coupons and were often created with inflated values.
Prosecutors say Talens would then ship the counterfeit coupons throughout the country using the U.S. Postal Service and other commercial parcel delivery services. She accepted payment through a variety of online payment methods, including Bitcoin and Paypal.
The scheme was discovered when one of the Talens’ customers reported them to the Coupon Information Center (CIC) which is a coalition of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to coupon integrity.
Officials from the CIC bought coupons from the Talens, confirmed they were counterfeit, and contacted the U.S. Postal Inspection Service for further investigation.
Authorities then executed a search warrant of their home after identifying the couple as the source of the counterfeit coupons.
During the search, agents seized nearly $1 million worth of counterfeit coupons from the home. Officials say the Talens’s computer also contained images for over 13,000 separate and distinct counterfeit coupon designs. The CIC reviewed these images concluded that counterfeit coupons cost retailers and manufacturers approximately $31,817,997 million in losses.
The duo pleaded guilty to mail fraud in April. Lori Ann Talens also pleaded guilty to wire fraud and health care fraud. Pacifico Talens was sentenced to to over 7 years in prison on August 19. Lori Ann Talens was sentenced to 12 years.